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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Displaced Tenants: A Correction and Some Good News

posted by on November 15 at 14:20 PM

I’ve got a story in this week’s paper about the city’s refusal to back tenants who were booted from a University District triplex, in violation of tenant relocation regulations. Developers are required to obtain a “tenant relocation license” in order to evict tenants when demolishing a building, which is supposed to help evictees get relocation assistance.

In my article, I said that the city and the property owner would have been responsible for splitting $2,000 in relocation fees, but due to annual increases, that number should have actually been higher. Almost $1,000 higher.

If the city had not allowed a developer to exploit a loophole in their own regulations, the tenants in the triplex—who met income requirements—would have received $2,829. The developer has attempted to contact former tenants, but the city has said that they won’t be paying, or offering legal support, and tenants are on their own if the developer doesn’t come through.

In other city/tenant news, Council President Nick Licata along with Councilmembers Tom Rasmussen and Peter Steinbrueck have been working on getting money budget to help put a little extra cash in the wallets of tenants displaced by condo conversion.

Right now, tenants displaced by conversions—who make 80% or less of the median income, about $42,000—get 500 bucks. A number of displaced tenants I’ve spoken with have complained that $500 isn’t enough to cover a deposit, moving expenses or first month’s rent at a new place (although tenants should get their deposits back from building owners if their apartments are being renovated).

Well, somebody at the city listened. Council is earmarking $350,000 in the budget to increase payouts to people caught up in Condo Conversion Wars.

Under the proposed guidelines, households that make 30% of the median income would receive $1500 from the city. Households in the 31-50% range would get $1000, and those in the 51-80% range would get $500.

If council makes this happen—it appears to have full support—the money would be available January 1st., but it would only be a temporary solution. When it runs out, it runs out.

Rasmussen is expected to testify in Olympia again during the next session, in hopes of getting the state to hop on the tenant-assistance bandwagon which they failed to do last year. However, a renewed push for a condo conversion cap seems unlikely.

RSS icon Comments


Does anyone know who to contact to apply for Displaced Tenant compensation?

Posted by tabletop_joe | November 15, 2007 2:27 PM

If you're in the process of being displaced, you should have received info from your landlord. I'd give DPD a call. If they don't call you back, keep calling.

Posted by Jonah S | November 15, 2007 2:38 PM

Thanks, Jonah!

Posted by tabletop_joe | November 15, 2007 2:50 PM

I'd like to turn the argument that private businesses operate more efficiently around for a second: in this case, it should be the developer who pays out to the tenants, not the city. Why is the city using our tax dollars to pay off people who have been kicked out of their homes because some developer wants to turn their apartments into condos or knock the building down. If the developers want to operate and displace these people, it should be up to them to pay up and the government should stay out of it.

Posted by magdaddy | November 15, 2007 3:00 PM

Why do displaced tenants need money to cover the first month's rent? Wouldn't they have that money anyway or were they living in their old apartments for free? Now, if the new landlord requires first and last, that would be a different story.

Posted by keshmeshi | November 15, 2007 3:47 PM


Can you clarify if this was a violation or not?

You wrote "in violation of tenant relocation regulations" then later you wrote "exploit a loophole in their own regulations."

Exploiting a loophole is not a violation, it's just shitty behavior. Trying to figure out if DPD is letting someone slide here.

Posted by elrider | November 15, 2007 3:54 PM


It's very difficult to find an apartment that is ready to move in to on the 1st of the month. So you have to pay at least a portion of the old apartment's rent, plus the new apartment's rent.

Most landlords charge first and last month's rent at signing, plus a security deposit. This can be a major hardship or an impossibility for people who have very little money to begin with and who aren't choosing to move.

Posted by tabletop_joe | November 15, 2007 4:12 PM

In order to evict tenants for the purpose of tearing down a building, developers are required to obtain a "tenant relocation license." They didn't, against the ordinance, which is a violation.

Posted by Jonah S | November 15, 2007 4:47 PM

@ 8

I talked to a really nice guy at DPD, and he confirmed that.

However, many current projects (especially on Capitol Hill) aren't tearing down the buildings. They're remodeling old buildings, adding granite countertops, and selling them off in the "mid 300s". Take that "Vertigo" abomination by the E. Broadway QFC for example. The hornrim glasses of condos, indeed. Hornrims and cold, cold hearts. I digress...

The law includes these instances, but since no actual construction takes place, projects like these slip under the wire. Or that's what I perceive happens. I don't know.

The DPD also told me that there is no time restrictions on how long a displaced tenant can demand their moving costs from their former landlords--so if you're reading this and you're low income ($4000 or below a month for 3 people) and you've been kicked out of your home due to condo development AND your ex-property owner never offered you compensation: Call your old landlord, and let them know that you will file a complaint with the DPD who will cite them for not offering you information. You are entitled to $500, which isn't much considering how much it costs to move, but it's something.

If you're like those guys being pushed prematurely from their apartments in the U-District, you should also call the DPD.

Ugh, I have too much to say and no outlet. Sorry. It's just so outrageous and frustrating that people have to go through this nightmare.

Posted by tabletop_joe | November 15, 2007 8:41 PM

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